Is Summer Over Already?

Where has the sun gone?

This Hydrangea sketch is my attempt to defy indications that the British summer has already bowed out.  It’s still July and I’m not ready to put my sandals and sunglasses away just yet.

Based loosely on the principles of negative painting, I worked around the petals and leaves to define their shapes and bring them forward.

Hydrangea©Watercolouri

Transparent colours were used as several layers of increasingly deeper tone are required to develop the shapes.

For quick reference I use a Winsor & Newton chart of hand-painted professional waercolours which has proved invaluable to me.  It not only clearly demonstrates what each colour looks like from intense to watery pale, but it also lists whether they are transparent, semi-transparent or opaque.  It also saves me the bother of making my own chart.

Colour-Chart-W&N.fw

It is important to allow the paint to dry properly between each glaze…something I’m particularly bad at.

The Art of Wu-Wei & Coloured Pencil Bliss

Isn’t it always the way?  With this drawing of my son I didn’t try.  Really!  It was only a spontaneous sketch with barely any conscious thought…yet somehow, I effortlessly managed to accurately ‘capture’ my son and his mood.  He even likes it enough to use it on his website.

Composer©James

Striving for perfection and overthinking often sabotages creativity.  It’s a paradox!  This was only achieved because I was ‘in the flow’, in a ‘zone’; the usual self-inflicted pressure was off and I didn’t care about the outcome.  I was unleashed!

Composer©zoomDrawing with coloured pencils is extremely satisfying.  It’s just so very simple – all that is required is some paper, pencils and a sharpener.  And the results are gratifyingly fast…no drying time required.

I’ll have to cultivate this – in future, I’ll try not to try.

Last Squeak of 2013

And so as Christmas creaks into view, with the nation reaching wearily for its winter woolies once again, lo – behold my latest offering before I totally disappear up my own festive fundament.

Portrait©FinalPersonally, I prefer a looser, more spontaneous and drippy effect to this overworked watercolour portrait, but I learned so much; primarily how to conquer my fear of a blank sheet of paper:

  • my pigments are not as translucent as those of the tutor
  • squinting to properly see tone, light, shadow and reflected light
  • identifying warm and cool colours
  • preparation – pre-mix enough paints
  • glazing – how graduated washes create many layers – first time using a mop brush
  • establishing soft and hard edges
  • lifting off damp as well as dried pigment
  • ability to look at watercolour paintings by other artists and decipher which technical aspects were probably used

I enjoyed this online course so much.

Herewith the various stages showing the process…

Portrait©MontagePortrait©Likeness…just don’t ask me to share the technical details – it took me a long time to complete and I am busy preparing for the impending fa-la-laaa fiasco.

Once they have had time to complete the course themselves and IF they decide to publish, I will be adding links here to posts by my good painting buddies, Leslie White and Carol King.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.  Rum pum pum pum!

The Fun Never Stops

I hope this finds you dry.  I don’t mean that in an impolite way, it’s just that I live in the new monsoon kingdom of England where pretty much everything is soggy and damp at the moment.

In other news, I’ve started painting again…somebody alert the media!!!

The above two initial attempts at painting this friend of my son left me severely disheartened and frustrated by my dearth of technical skills.  At the end of the process I’d inevitably do something to ruin it.  Without formal training, making progress is difficult but, as someone once said; “Practice is the best of all instructors” so I’ve stopped sulking and here I am again.

Watercolour is one of the most challenging of painting mediums in that it is unpredictable.  The lack of control simultaneously thrills me and scares the pants off me.  Oh yes, I know how to have fun.

The following two studies taught me much about paint manipulation.  When attempting spontaneity and allowing the paint to do its own thing, it helps to be prepared for any eventuality.  Using a spray water bottle and kitchen paper allows for more control, as do loud yelps and sharp intakes of breath, although this does tend to startle the other people who live here.

With this first attempt, the darkest colour was painted first and when completely dry, lighter, transparent colours were glazed over.  This was in response to being educated by my friend Carol King on a fascinating process called Brunaille, except that this is in the wrong context and  I used blue instead of brown.  It was useful in helping me to appreciate the values of light and shadow.

The early stages look better than the finished version – the scanner makes it appear far muddier than the original and the poor girl appears to be in dire need of a shave.The second study below didn’t scan well either (honestly, not an excuse) – it is frankly clownish.Back to the drawing board.  I plan to paint numerous versions and strive to feel comfortable about giving a picture to the model; I can’t seem to quite ‘capture’ her.

Now if only I could channel my inner critic to help me perceive at what point to put the brush down and step away from the painting!  Less is more, stupid! So stop it.  I know you too are guilty of this.

You’re so glad you read this blog post, aren’t you? Admit it; I have enriched your life.

Pleased with this I am

I wanted to say something fascinating and existential about this picture but am too tired from focusing on drawing with a mouse instead of a pencil and I think my computer may be running a temperature.

Being too impatient to closely follow rules in instruction books, I applied my usual trial and error approach by throwing myself at Photoshop and…yes it hurt, but I’m taking antibiotics for it.

Anyway, PROGRESS!

You can probably hear me patting my own back from where you are.

I’m pleased with it – did I mention that before?

Shelf Portrait

Herewith only a small portion of my current reading matter.Some are being avidly studied – others, I’m merely dipping into.  They all offer me the opportunity to further develop the multiple intricacies of illustration skills and feed my insatiable curiosity about the subject.

Soon I hope to demonstrate here how they have inspired and educated me.  My motto is to never stop learning and trying to improve.

Watch this space….*cue “Wonder Woman theme tune”* ♬ ♫ ♪ ♩